The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed Rwanda's announcement that it is starting a nationwide campaign to eliminate the transmission of HIV from a mother to her child.
Rwandan authorities launched the HIV/AIDS campaign on Thursday, with the aim of reducing the transmission rate among children born to women living with HIV to below 2 per cent.
HIV-positive women will receive the best available anti-retroviral regimens as part of the campaign, while the Government also hopes to ensure that all women have access to family planning and to information on HIV prevention.
Elhadj As Sy, UNICEF's regional director for Eastern Africa and South Africa, said he was confident that Rwanda – the most densely populated country on the continent – can make significant progress in tackling mother-child transmission.
“In order to achieve this goal we have to make sure that all pregnant women with HIV can participate in prevention programmes, including adolescent girls and those living in remote areas,” he said.
“UNICEF stands ready to support the Government in identifying the gaps in access and in removing bottlenecks that prevent women from making use of the existing life-saving services.”
Rwandan has one of the lowest HIV infection rates for pregnant women in its region, with a national average of 4.3 per cent, but the rate in the capital, Kigali, is between 16 and 34 per cent.
At least 20,000 children under the age of 15 live with HIV, and more than 90 per cent were infected by their mother, either during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.